Monday, December 14, 2009

Mrs. Malory and the Festival Murder by Hazel Holt

59. Mrs. Malory and the Festival Murder (British title - An Uncertain Death) - fourth in the Mrs. Malory series
by Hazel Holt
mystery, 1993
finished, 12/10/09

In this Mrs. Malory book, a thoroughly unpleasant man is killed, and everyone wonders how and why and whodunnit. But the mystery is the smallest part of these books for me. Here are some snatches from the Festival Murder that will give you an idea of this book, and a flavor of all the Mrs. Malory books.

The high-spot of any stay in a hotel for me is the Full English Breakfast. At home I rarely have more than a slice of toast and a cup of tea, but when I'm away I always go the whole hog. This particular morning my plate was deliciously full of bacon, egg, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, and fried bread and I sat and contemplated it with satisfaction.

Time passed quickly, as it always does in the summer months - it's extraordinary how slowly time passes in the winter...

In the taxi going to Paddington, though, I realized that I had done it again. I'm always very early for everything, not just punctual, but very early indeed. It is something I have passed on to Michael [her son], something, he maintains, that has shortened his life. "The time I spend waiting about, Ma," he says, "I could have not just read War and Peace - I could have written it!"

No one can be lonely with a houseful of animals.

... I stuffed clothes into the machine, secure in the knowledge that I could now say to myself that I had Done the Washing (this is a form of conscience-salving every woman is familiar with) and could now go out and potter round the shops.

Though these mysteries would definitely be categorized as cozy, they are not simple. They are very well-written. The people are complex. The crimes are not pretty, though they do happen, as they say, 'off-screen.' They are all one could wish for in an English village mystery.


  1. I'm adding this one to my queue. Thanks, Nan!

  2. Nan, do you buy all your books or do you get them from the library? I have so many books that I could actually have a library myself but I love the look of books on a shelf, it just says, pick me and pull up an chair and a cup of tea or cocoa and lets go away for a while!

  3. If you type Mrs. Malory into the search you'll find some others, too, Sprite! I plan to read them all eventually.

    Linda, just about a year ago now, I decided to read from my own books for a year:

    and this was the result:

    Now, I am happily buying books again, keeping them all together so they don't get lost in the shuffle, trying really hard to just buy what I'm quite positive I'll want to own. It has been lovely when I finish a book to go choose a new one. As good as it was for me, I seriously missed buying books. I'm not a clothes girl or a shoes girl, but I love buying books! Thanks for asking, and you probably got more of an answer than you wanted! :<)

  4. I always buy books, because there is always a wait at the public library for best sellers. Then, I donate them to the library and get a tax deduction.

  5. Gigi, for me it is sort of the opposite. I'm in a small area, and so there aren't as many waiting for books, but also I tend to read older books or British books that aren't available in the library. I've been buying quite a few from used bookstores online, and the newer ones from the most-beloved book depository where I can get those British books with no shipping cost. Ah, heaven.

  6. How wonderful to see that you've reviewed one of Hazel Holt's Mrs. Malory mysteries! They are among my favourite things. I've read and reread most of them, and agree with you completely that the fun isn't the actual whodunit, but the characters. Don't you feel for Sheila's friend Rosemary, she of the awful mother?! I have a friend whose mother is much the same. And the bits about daily life, like the frustrations of baking which doesn't turn out, or shopping for a dress for a special occasion when nothing fits -- well, what woman can't identify with that?
    Thanks for sharing a lovely post. Happy Christmas to you and yours, Canadian Chickadee

  7. Thank you so much for coming by, Canadian Chickadee (and what a great name!). I love Mrs. M. I've read a few others, and if you are interested, you could type 'mrs. malory' into the search bar to read them. I talked about Rosemary's mother in one of them.

  8. Oh my goodness: the parallels just never cease to amaze me. Barbara Pym is one of my favorite authors and Hazel Holt was her executor/friend. I did not realize that she too wrote fiction. Thanks for another interesting illumination.

    I also like your idea of reading from your own book collection. I am also doing the same which is why I rarely go to the library!

    Best, Catherine

  9. Nan,
    I love your taste in books!! This sounds delightful and I adored the snippets that you gave to us!! Sounds like another series I need to read!!

  10. Nan, I love your photo of your dog sitting in the snow at the gate. Wouldn't he be cold? Looks like he is waiting for someone.
    We are sweltering in the heat and humidity here at the moment. If only it would rain.
    I haven,t read any Mrs. Malory books. I will have to check if they are at my library.


  11. You could not have a better blog banner picture!!!!! Adorable; especially with the hind leg jutting out!

  12. "no one can be lonely with a houseful of animals". My sentiments exactly! And I love your new header!!!

  13. How come I've missed Hazel Holt? Judging by your comments and the quotations she sounds very much my cup of tea. It's off to the library again...

  14. Wonderful quotes!! I love each and every one.

    And, what a great photo in your header this morning. You could call it "Waiting" or "Anticipation."

  15. Catherine, I want to read her biog. of BP.

    Staci, thank you!

    Patricia, good to hear from you! Sadie was watching Tom put out hay for the animals out in the pasture. She thinks it is her job every afternoon. :<) I can't believe the difference in our weathers!

    Laura, I thank you and Sadie thanks you!

    Pamela, I thought you might like it! :<)

    Scriptor Senex, I think they are right up your alley (or street as you might say!)

    Les, thank you! Working is what Sadie would call it. :<) There must be some herding dog in her somewhere.

  16. Nan, what a wonderful header picture!!! I just love it!

  17. I really like this bit: "The time I spend waiting about, Ma," he says, "I could have not just read War and Peace - I could have written it!"
    It is the kind of humour I fully relate to :-)

    Nan, have you ever read any of the Agatha Raisin mysteries? I think you would like them.

  18. Sherri, Sadie thanks you very much! It is her first 'artistic' appearance on the blog. I had fun making it b&w and adding that little circular edge.

    Librarian, I like this humor, too. I haven't read Agatha R. but have been reading good reviews. I've just read her Hamish books. I'll give one a try next year!

  19. I can't wait to see whether my local library has some of these. Thank you!

  20. I enjoyed your excerpts from this book which I shall try to find.
    A full English breakfast, nice to eat one then settle down with a good book!

  21. Paula and K, hope you enjoy the series. K, I've been on a French toast kick lately. :<)


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